HMA Championship Varsity Basketball Team, 1961

From The Cadence, HMA's yearbook, 1961.

HMA Basketball Team, 1961

Front row: David Reynolds (guard), Dick Clark (guard), Walter Jones (guard), Dwayne Pfenninger (forward), Walter Huhn (forward), Buddy Spencer (guard).

Back row: Coleman Yeatts (forward), Tommy Mewborn (forward), Wayne Duncan (center), Mike Smith (center), Mike Stafford (forward), Frank Smith (guard).

In October 1960 a group of young basketball prospects assembled in Hargrave Military Academy's beautiful new gymnasium to get ready for a tough, twenty-game schedule. No one dreamed that from this group would come, as most people said in the end, the most highly-touted team ever to play at Hargrave. No one could have guessed that by season-end this handful of boys would become the most publicized, the most potent, and the most admired of them all. As the Danville Register and Bee said, “These boys will forever be embellished on Hargrave's athletic roll of honor….”

After winning five pre-season games (Halifax, George Washington, Whitmell, and two with Martinsville), the Hargrave Tigers went to John D. Bassett to open the regular season. The Tigers won. On the following night they played the first game ever to be played in Hargrave's new gym against Hampden-Sydney College's freshman team, and broke in the new place with a 91-75 victory.

On a four-day trip through Pennsylvania, the team slipped by Lebanon Valley College's freshman team by two points, took two overtimes to win over a determined Wyoming Seminary prep team, then made it a clean sweep by downing the Susquehanna University freshmen.

Back home, now behind tremendous cadet support, the roundballers beat the Lynchburg College freshmen to make it six wins without a loss.

Now, taking on competition in the military league, in its first year of organized existence, the Tigers met Staunton, easily the toughest assignment in the league. The local courtmen pleased the home crowd with a hard-earned win, 80-71. Next they won from the second best opponent, Greenbriar, as they passed the century mark, 108-80.

In a two-day round-robin at Staunton involving four teams, the undefeated Tigers took on Massanutten and, though having a rough go of it physically, won again. The next night they lost their first and only game for the season. A strong, revenge-seeking [Staunton] Hilltopper crew knocked the HMA team from the ranks of the unbeaten to the convincing tune of 80-58.

Comp Shelton

J. Compton Shelton, basketball coach at Hargrave Military Academy in 1961 (from The Cadence (see his further comments).

Getting up from the fall, they showed Augusta the way by a score of 70-51 and then left league play long enough to drop John D. Bassett. Massanutten then forfeited a make-up game, and the Tigers started down tht estretch with a win over Augusta, and an impressive victory over Greenbriar, 110-82, which proved to be the only loss the fighting cadets had suffered at home all season.

Hargrave made it 15 out of 16 with a win over Fork Union, then took an outside team, Hampden-Sydney Frosh, at Death Valley by a score of 85-63. Two wins over Fishburne brought the courtmen to their last regular season game at Fork Union. With a victory there, the winning Tigers ended the season with the most wins and the best record of any team ever to represent Hargrave.

In the military tournament held at HMA (the location of the tournament rotates among the military schools alphabetically) the Hargrave team drew a first-round bye because of being regular season winners. Greenbriar beat Fishburne, Massanutten won over Augusta, and Staunton took Fork Union in routine fashion. In the semi-finals Massanutten gave Staunton a go for it before bowing out, and Hargrave won from Greenbriar to make for the “natural” final pairing.

The consolation game found Massanutten pulling the tourney's only upset over Greenbriar, then … the finals … who would it be? Each [Staunton and Hargrave] had almost identical records; they had split regular season games.

“This was unquestionably Hargrave's finest hour in sports. A capacity crowd, limp after forty minutes of heart-stopping basketball, was on its feet,” for, with the support of the greatest cadet corps ever, and with the help of God, the Tigers had won, 81-79.


  1. Set by Walter Jones — 79.61% of free throws; beat Jim Ahern — 76.54% in 1959-60.
  2. Season record — 19-1; broke 18-4 in 1957-58.
  3. Set by Wayne Duncan — 16-16 on the foul line.
  4. School record — 5 men in double figures.
  5. Most foul shots made by team — 34.
  6. Most rebounds — Stafford — 31.

Regular Schedule

HMA Opponent
91 Bassett High School 58
91 Hampden-Sydney College Freshman 75
75 Lebanon Valley College Freshman 73
92 Wyoming Seminary 84
83 Susquehanna University Freshman 55
79 Lynchburg College Freshman 70
80 Staunton Military Academy 71
108 Greenbriar Military Academy 80
71 Massanutten Military Academy 59
58 Staunton Military Academy 80
70 Augusta Military Academy 51
86 Bassett High School 53
82 Augusta Military Academy 66
2 Massanutten Military Academy (forfeit) 0
110 Greenbriar Military Academy 82
89 Fork Union Military Academy 66
85 Hampden-Sydney College Freshman 63
86 Fishburne Military Academy 49
92 Fishburne Military Academy 67
94 Fork Union Military Academy 78

Military Tournament

HMA Opponent
108 Greenbriar Military Academy 80
81 Staunton Military Academy 79

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